SCSD Alumni Profile: Fowler Alumnus George Thatvihane ('09)

     Published on 7/16/15   Tagged under:    District News   


For George Thatvihane, giving the address to the Class of 2015 at the Fowler High School graduation ceremony seemed surreal. As he looked out at the audience of graduates, he thought, “These ‘kids’ are not much younger than me. Why should they take this guy seriously?”

But at 23 years old, George Thatvihane has every reason to be taken seriously. George has graduated from Syracuse University and is working toward completing his doctorate at Upstate Medical University. While George’s journey is far from over, it proves that success doesn’t come without its obstacles.

For George, studying medicine is not about making a better life for himself, but for making a better life for others. He wants to stay in Syracuse and work in the inner city community he grew up in. George says, “It’ll be better for those in the community to have a doctor who will be able to relate to their situation and circumstances.” After all, it was his sister that sparked his interest in the medical field. “My sister Phitsamai really propelled me towards medicine,” George said. “She has always supported me over the years.”    

George grew up on the West Side of Syracuse and attended Bellevue Elementary School and Shea Middle School.  His early education was positive.  “The kids at Bellevue loved each other” George said, “It was a very good environment.” During middle school though, his experience took a turn for the worse. “It wasn’t a great environment” George recollected, “But the teachers I had always cared about their students.” That was one of the most positive things George remembered throughout his whole experience, the teachers.

One teacher in particular stood out in George’s memory and that was Mr. Thomas Little, his AP world history teacher in 10th grade. Mr. Little opened George’s mind to a lot of different perspectives and taught him to look at the whole picture instead of the individual parts. George said that Mr. Little also attempted to instill a good work ethic into his students and wasn’t afraid to be tough on them. While all of Mr. Little’s messages did not sink in right away, they were lessons that George carries with him today.    

After graduating from Fowler High School, George Thatvihane was accepted into Ithaca College to study physics in 2009 on a scholarship. George soon realized that he was not prepared for college. “I didn’t really know how to study,” George said. “I felt like I wasn’t really prepared for college.” After two years at Ithaca, George lost his scholarship and was forced to leave Ithaca College. “It wasn’t a great moment for me” he recalled.

Fortunately, George got a second chance at higher education. He applied to Syracuse University under the Say Yes to Education Program to study psychology in 2011.  There, he completed his undergraduate degree. Upon graduation in 2013, Thatvihane was accepted into a doctoral program for medicine at Upstate Medical University. He’s still working to complete that degree, carrying the lessons he learned as a younger student in the Syracuse City School District with him.